Thursday March 21, 2019
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Delhi contests home ministry notification, HC hearing on Friday

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government on Thursday moved the Delhi High Court, challenging the union home ministry’s May 21 notification.  The notification maintained that Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung has discretionary powers for appointments and transfers to key bureaucratic posts in the capital. Delhi government mentioned the matter before a division bench of Justice B.D. Ahmed and Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva, which posted the hearing for Friday. Challenging the “constitutional validity” of the notification, the city government sought its quashing by the high court.

The high court bench also posted for Friday a similar plea filed by law student Vibhor Anand. It challenged the home ministry notification and contended the appointment of senior bureaucrat Shakuntala Gamlin as the acting chief secretary by the Delhi Lt. Governor as “illegal”.

“There is already a similar petition filed by the Delhi government. We will hear both on Friday,” the bench said. The petitions, filed within days of a high court order terming the May 21 notification as “suspect”, have contended that it was “ultra vires” of the constitutional provisions, i.e. Article 239 AA (4), and that the Center does not have the jurisdiction over matters connected with services of bureaucrats in the national capital.

“Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Sanjay Jain informed the high court that the Center had also approached the Supreme Court to challenge the high court order that termed ‘suspect’ its notification barring Delhi government’s anti-corruption branch (ACB) from acting against its officers in criminal offences.” Law student Vibhor Anand in his PIL said: “Delhi is neither a full state nor a union territory and Delhi is governed by Articles 239-AA and 239-AB of Constitution of India (which deals with union territories) introduced by a constitutional amendment in 1991.”

“As per Section 41 of the GNCT Act, 1991, the Lieutenant Governor does not have any discretion to appoint Gamlin as the chief secretary and other such posts, nor any special law granted him this discretion,” the petition read.

The petitioner also said that the Lt. Governor is “dutybound by the aid and advice of the council of ministers and the chief minister in all matters that concern the legislative assembly as per Article 239 AA (4) of the Constitution of India and Section 41 of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991.”

The petition highlighted a Supreme Court constitutional bench judgment in which the phrase “aid and advice” as used in Article 239-AA has been interpreted “to mean that the aid and advice of the council of ministers and the chief minister is binding on the Governor, it is not just advisory.”

The turf war between Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung over the control of key bureaucratic appointments was sparked by the appointment of Gamlin as acting chief secretary of Delhi by the Lt. Governor on May 15.

(With inputs from IANS)

Next Story

Aadhaar Data Breach Report Incorrect: High Court

Citing the top court's judgement, the petitioner said that when the state violates the constitutional rights of a citizen, courts may award compensation

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Aadhaar Card Logo. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) on Thursday told the Delhi High Court that reports regarding security breach of data related to Aadhaar is incorrect and misleading as the strongest encryption technology has been used to store data which is impossible to decrypt.

“The technology used is 2048-bit encryption, which is the strongest one and it is impossible to decrypt and extract any information even if enrolment packets were accessible during transit to the UIDAI data centre,” UIDAI told a bench of Justice S. Ravindra Bhat and Justice Prateek Jalan.

The bench was hearing a plea seeking exemplary damages for the losses caused due to leakage of Aadhaar data.

The plea was filed by Shamnad Basheer alleging that the dissemination of personal information of Aadhaar holders made it clear that the government is responsible for any breach of right to informational privacy.

E-Aadhaar card.

In an affidavit, the government agecy said that Aadhaar data is fully secured at all times and for further strengthening of security and privacy of data, security audits are conducted on regular basis, and all possible steps are taken to make the data safer and protected.

It further added that there are multiple layers of security at physical level in UIDAI data centres and is being managed by armed Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel round-the-clock.

“The technical architecture of Aadhaar has been structured in such a way, so as to ensure clear data verification, authentication and de-duplication, while ensuring a high level of privacy and information security,” the UIDAI said.

“UIDAI has taken all necessary safeguards, starting from providing standardised software that encrypts the entire data even before saving it to any disk; protecting data using tamper-proofing; identifying every operator in all and every enrolment; and identifying every one of the thousands of machines using an unique registration process, which ensures every encrypted data is tracked,” read the reply copy filed by the UIDAI.

Countering Basheer’s claim, the agency also said that the petitioner is trying to re-agitate the same issues which have attained finality before the Supreme Court and therefore the present petition deserves to be dismissed with costs.

Aadhaar Card. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

It said that the petition is based on a mere assumption that the general public is likely to be aggrieved.

“In the entire petition, there is not even a mention as to how the petitioner is aggrieved by the actions of the UIDAI and how his constitutional rights have been violated to entitle him to damages claimed by him,” the UIDAI said.

Adding that there is no merit in the application, UIDAI, in its reply, said: “The alleged facts (leakage of Aadhaar data) on the basis of which the petitioner has filed the plea are unsubstantiated statements and the information relating to the Aadhaar scheme has been grossly misreported and interpolated to mislead this court.

“The petitioner has pivoted his entire case around the misleading and unverified reports in the media regarding security breach of data related to Aadhaar, which is entirely denied as incorrect and misinformed.”

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The agency requested the court to dismiss the plea with cost as the petitioner has no locus standi to file this application.

The petitioner has said his constitutional rights have been violated due to the negligence of UIDAI.

Citing the top court’s judgement, the petitioner said that when the state violates the constitutional rights of a citizen, courts may award compensation.

Basheer has also requested the court to appoint an independent committee comprising multiple experts to investigate the scope, extent of breaches and the magnitude of harm caused due to data leak. (IANS)